Submission….and rejection. Nine weeks in the life of an anxious author.

I have written only one blog post this summer. That’s it. A far cry from this time a year ago in the run-up to publishing Things He Never Knew when I was writing once or twice a week. This year is very different; first of all I was so burnt out by completing my second manuscript – the final push was tough – that I had little enthusiasm for creating anything, and secondly all I have done for nine weeks is look after my children. Which has been lovely, but not worth reporting here on my blog. There’s only so much playing and plasticine that people want to read about.

Summer has gone so quickly! Staring down the gun barrel of nine weeks of childcare is always daunting, but before I know it the diary is filled up with playdates, visits and weekends away – there’s always something going on – and oh so quickly September is here and they’re back to school. It’s extra poignant for me this year because now it’s time for my younger daughter to join her big sister in the main school as she starts Reception. As I’ve said before Alice has a genetic abnormality called 22q11 deletion, and when she was born I didn’t know if she would ever go to school, so preparing her big girl’s uniform for her has been extra-special. I’m not an over-protective mother by any stretch of the imagination, but I can’t deny feeling a little anxious this time round. However she is going into a class with lots of her friends from the Nursery and she is happy and excited about starting school so she is as well prepared as she can be. Which is more than can be said for me as I attempt to return to some semblance of routine with both girls occupied Monday-Friday. I decided back in June to give myself the entire summer away from writing, partly because of the intensity of finishing Daisychain (my manuscript) and partly because it’s impossible to be able to focus on anything with two girls to entertain, and unfair on them to try. September however heralds a return to writing…..hopefully….

At the beginning of the summer I wrote a blog post about the submission of Daisychain; after it had been approved and I had cut 30,000 precious words from it (easier than it sounds, actually) it was sent to five publishers. I was told to expect a four to six week wait and probably longer because it was summer and everyone would be away. Or sitting in the sunshine, drinking cider in a beer garden somewhere. No, she didn’t say that really. Anyway, exactly four weeks to the day it was submitted I received my first rejection. From Headline. I had a lovely email from them forwarded to me by my agent which was the nicest rejection I could have received – but it was a rejection. And I was hit far harder by it than I had ever anticipated. As any author, aspiring or otherwise will know, rejection is very much part of being a writer. Inevitably, not everyone who reads your work is going to like it. I’ve never been that bothered by rejection from agents however, most of the time I doubted they had read it anyway and if they had I respected their opinion that it wasn’t for them. In fact, strange though it may sound I didn’t see rejection as dispiriting, I saw it as a challenge – and I love challenges. I shrugged metaphorically and turned elsewhere, hoping that I was simply a step closer. I had a lot of confidence that I would be taken on by someone one day – whether this is due to the sometime positive feedback that I did receive, or just my over-inflated sense of ability I really don’t know. But I do know that you can never give up hope. And this is something that I clung to in those days after my first rejection from a publisher. It was far more of a blow because I thought finding an agent to represent me would be a lot harder than getting a publisher to accept the manuscript. Now I know that the reverse is true. And each publisher rejection is a further signature on the death warrant of the manuscript; if they all reject it there really is nowhere else to turn, I shall simply have to put it to one side and move on. And four weeks after the first I received a second rejection, from Ebury this time, which whilst it didn’t shock me as much as the first, it certainly didn’t help either. Though I’m loath to admit it I was plunged into despair, convinced that I would get five rejections and my confidence to write anything else disappeared entirely. And this was a real problem to me. I like to be quite organised and as the end of the holidays approached I wanted to be in a position to start writing something else as soon as the girls were back at school – but I had absolutely no confidence in my ability to judge the appeal of a plot. If my manuscript is being rejected surely that means there’s no market for my writing? Surely I’m writing the wrong stuff? And at that point I had ideas floating around my mind but nothing definite, and try as I might I simply could not twist them into something compelling enough for me to start planning. So then I started wondering whether I should change my writing style, choose something a little more light-hearted perhaps? But no, that would be silly and weak I decided. Whatever I write has to be true to me and if the market isn’t ready for it at the moment then perhaps it will be in the future. I can’t try and predict future trends and tailor my writing to them; that would be crazy. No, I just had to be patient and hope inspiration would come. And tonight it did. An idea that I’ve been toying with for a while suddenly morphed into a tangible shape and took on contours and colour. It truly was a Eureka! moment. Before I knew it I had the title and the cover image flooding into my mind and my heart was beating faster and I was thinking – this is it! That’s when I reached for my phone by the way and quickly the tapped the news into twitter. My idea was seconds old but I had to share the birth of it immediately. And at that point I understood – it’s not about having confidence in your writing – it’s about being passionate enough about an idea or a plot that you would write it anyway, even if everyone else hated it, just for yourself. You can’t write specifically for a market, first and foremost you need to be true to yourself. Or I do at least, anyway. So I haven’t got any further with it at the moment, but I don’t need to because it’s there, ready and waiting when I need it. The girls go back to school on Thursday and straight away I shall be knuckling down and working on it, kneading it into shape and bringing it to life. I can’t wait.

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3 Responses to “Submission….and rejection. Nine weeks in the life of an anxious author.”

  1. Cari Rosen says:

    Go girl – that’s the spirit. Can’t wait to hear more as it evolves xx

  2. Anne Mackle says:

    How exciting but stressful at the same time.I don’t know how you find the time to write when you have children. Hope you get good news soon.

  3. Jane Holland says:

    These things happen all the time. Doesn’t mean a thing, frankly. All you need is one person to see its potential and feel able to convey that enthusiasm to their marketing team.

    Move on by all means. You need to keep writing books all the time if you’re going to be anything like a success. But don’t imagine a few rejections mean that book’s worthless. It just hasn’t found the right person yet. Go back to it later, dust it off and send it out again. And don’t be TOO sure if your agent says don’t bother. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, or not in this case. One day you may get the right beholder for that ms.

    Jx (highly experienced in the ways of rejections)